At nearly 17 million acres, the Tongass National Forest has the distinction of being the largest national forest in the system, surpassing the second largest, the Chugach, by more than 11.5 million acres. The Tongass also has the honor of being the largest contiguous temperate rainforest in the world. This enduring set of ecosystems is managed for the enjoyment of present and future generations.
Hubbard Glacier, one of the few advancing glaciers in the world, could block the entrance to Russell Fiord near Yakutat, Alaska, creating a large ice-dammed lake. Should that occur, Russell Fiord could fill and eventually drain southward into the Situk River drainage, significantly affecting this important world-class fishery and inundating primarily national forest land, and several Native Allotments. The economy of Yakutat would be affected because the Situk River is the main sport, commercial and subsistence fishery in this community.
In 1986 and 2002, Hubbard Glacier closed the entrance to Russell Fiord, blocking tidal flow between the Fiord and Disenchantment Bay at Gilbert Point. The water level in the new Russell Lake rose to an elevation of 83 feet above sea level in 1986 and 61 feet in 2002. Both times, the ice/moraine dam broke before water overtopped into the Situk River.
In 1980, Congress designated 448,926 acres as the Stikine-LeConte Wilderness. Located on the mainland midway between Wrangell and Petersburg, this Wilderness is home to the Stikine River, fastest free-flowing navigable river in the U.S., and the LeConte Glacier, the southernmost tidewater glacier on the Pacific Coast. From hikers to paddlers, birders to ice climbers, this Wilderness has an adventure for just about any outdoor enthusiast.
Prince of Wales Island
Prince of Wales Island has something for every nature enthusiast. You may encounter black bears, eagles, salmon, and deer, to name a few species you may see on POW. Contact the POW Chamber of Commerce in Klawock, Alaska at 907-755-2626 for more information on tours and activities.
Misty Fjords National Monument
Misty Fjords National Monument is 2,142,243 acres on the southern tip of the Alaska Panhandle and is the largest Wilderness area on the Tongass National Forest. It is part of a vast coastal temperate rainforest and the cloud-shrouded Monument can receive 160 inches of rain annually. The region is marked by deep valleys, steep slopes and sharp valley ridges formed by volcanism and carved by glaciers. Numerous steep-walled inlets of the sea called fjords offer excellent sea-kayaking opportunities, although 25-foot changes in the tides and frequent storms can make boat access challenging. Ideal beach camps may be underwater two hours after pitching a tent.
There are 13 public recreation cabins, 5 three-sided shelters, and 10 trails that provide 20 miles of hiking opportunities.
Admiralty Island National Monument
Embracing nearly a million acres of old growth rainforest, alpine tundra, and rugged coastline, Admiralty Island National Monument and the Kootznoowoo Wilderness offer unrivaled opportunities for solitude and primitive recreation in Southeast Alaska.
The native Tlingít people call this island "Kootznoowoo," meaning "Fortress of the Bear." Indeed, Admiralty Island is home to the highest concentration of brown bears in the world; more than all the Lower 48 states combined. While famous for its bears, Admiralty Island offers much more to visitors and residents alike. Spectacular runs of wild salmon fill the island's creeks each summer, while remote mountain lakes offer the ultimate in wilderness fishing.
Tracy Arm-Fjords Terror Wilderness
In 1980, Congress designated 653,179 acres as the Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness. Located midway between Juneau and Petersburg, this wilderness can be accessed by motorboats, large vessels or commercial cruise boats, and floatplanes. Tracy and Endicott are two long and narrow arms of saltwater. These arms are bordered by steep rock walls and glacier-covered mountains. At the head of each fjord is an active tidewater glacier which calves frequently, producing floating icebergs. About 75% of the Wilderness area is considered alpine, of which 20% consists of glaciers and snow fields. The Tongass National Forest manages this undeveloped, enduring set of ecosystems for the enjoyment of present and future generations.